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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

From Divine Carpaccio To the Hair in the Pizza

It is a sorry sight to witness a restaurant in decline -- especially one that started out with promise. But it didn't take Capri long to go from an Italian newcomer with potential to a dismal dining experience.

I first learned about Capri from a friend who called me to rave about the carpaccio. A few weeks passed before we went to sample their fare, but in the interim the original chef had returned to Italy and the carpaccio was now swimming in olive oil.

"We didn't need him anymore," our waitress said, after we inquired after the Italian chef. "He taught us what we needed to know."

While the Capri staff may not have mastered the delicate art of carpaccio, they did get higher grades in the pizza department. Indeed, if there is any reason to go to Capri, it is surely for the pizza. The menu offers more than a dozen varieties (running around $10) offering standard combinations of tomatoes, mozzarella, mushrooms and ham, as well as more exotic toppings, including artichokes, eggplant and capers. The crust is not too thin, not too thick.

Putting the carpaccio incident behind her, my friend chose the Norma ($8) -- a pizza that called for ricotta cheese, tomatoes, eggplant and basil. When the pie actually arrived, however, the promised ricotta was nowhere to be seen. "You can't see it, but it's there," said our waitress. "It's a special technique they use."

After a few conclusive bites, she sent the waitress back into the kitchen to uncover the mystery of the missing ricotta. The waitress returned to inform us that there was no ricotta that day, and the chef had substituted parmesan instead. For some reason, it never even occurred to them that she might want to know about the substitution in advance.

The ricotta experience pretty much sums up the service at Capri -- not rude, perhaps, but certainly lackadaisical, and it didn't get any better on my second visit. This time on official dining business, my party of three walked into the empty restaurant and was seated at a table for four with three place settings. When one of us sat down at the seat without a setting, rather than moving the cutlery over to the customer, the waitress asked the customer to move to the cutlery. It did not set a positive tone for the evening.

Nor, for that matter, did the hair in my dining companion's gorgonzola pizza -- which arrived more than 15 minutes before the rest of us were served. Eventually our saltimbocca ($18) and shrimp scampi ($16) did arrive. The veal was passable if not completely unmemorable and the shrimp scampi was too light on the garlic and too heavy on the bread crumbs.

As for atmosphere, the dining room at Capri has all the personality of a cafeteria. The lighting is harsh, the music even harsher. No candles or carnations break the monotony. It sorely needs other diners to add some cheer, but the restaurant was empty both times I visited. Rumor has it business picks up during the day, when the bankers from the neighboring Menatep office stroll over for the $20 lunch special that includes an appetizer, soup or pasta, and veal.

Two words of warning for those who do decide to visit Capri. Watch out for the staircase. One step is wider than the others and one of my dining companions nearly landed on his head both coming and going. Also, health-conscious water drinkers should be prepared to pay dearly for their indulgence. My dining party racked up an $18 water bill for 3 small bottles of San Pelligrino. When this seemed excessive we questioned the manager, who attempted to sooth our dissatisfaction by telling us they only charge a dollar more per bottle than most other restaurants.

Capri, at 7 Prospekt Akademika Sakharova, is open daily from noon to midnight. Telephone 207-5253. Rubles and credit cards. Nearest metro: Krasniye Vorota.